The last few days couldn’t have been more unplanned in my life. My son, a sophomore in high school, had a football game about an hour and half northwest of where we live. With little time left in the first half, the football was thrown to him (he is a receiver) in the end zone and he jumped up and reached high for the ball and made a great catch for the touchdown. From where I was sitting, I could tell that he got hit in midair as a defensive player for the other team left his feet and torpedoed into him right as the ball touched his fingertips. He got up slowly. The cheers from his teammates and coaches could be heard as he got up and walked over to the sidelines, but I could tell something wasn’t right. A few minutes later, I was summoned down to the locker room by the team physician. He told me that he was concerned my son could have a ruptured spleen at worst, bruised rips at best. He suggested we immediately go to the Emergency Room to be checked out.
We did and ended up spending the night. The good news was that the spleen and ribs were fine, but there was fluid (blood) on his pelvis, probably from the hit. They kept him for precautionary reasons. We left the next day, thankful he was ok, but ready for some rest from the hospital stay.
We left the hospital to make the drive home Saturday about 12:30. Our weekend plans now interrupted, we spent the rest of the day relaxing. As bedtime approached we reflected on how thankful we were that my son escaped serious injury.
But then…..a little after midnight my wife and I heard a knock on our bedroom door. I thought it might be my son saying he was sore and needing something for pain. Nothing prepared me for what I opened my bedroom door to.
My daughter, a senior in high school, was standing there crying, but hardly making noise. She was pointing to her throat and said “Dad, something is wrong.” I tried to calm her down and ask her what happened and tried to get her to the bed but she fell to the floor. She had shallow breathing and kept saying her face and hands were tingling. She couldn’t feel them. I didn’t know what to do. As seconds were passing, what got my attention was the look of fear on my daughter’s face. I could tell that something was seriously wrong by the look of terror in her eyes as she was breathing so fast.
My wife and I got her in the car and sped towards Mercy hospital, which is only about 7 miles from our house. With my daughter laying in the backseat of the car, I drove as fast as possible, ignoring every traffic law. As I was on the phone with the nurse at Mercy, so they would be prepared, my wife started screaming. “She’s not breathing! She’s stopped breathing! Oh my God Kyle, she’s not breathing!” The fear that came over me was none like I had ever experienced before. I yelled at my wife to shake her and get her to come to and then I called 911. They were not much help. I was driving in excess of 110 mph and at one point blocked everything out and knew that all I could do was drive…and pray. With tears rolling down my face I began to call out to Jesus as loud as I could. I estimated that we drove almost 3 miles this way. It was excruciating. Finally, a few blocks before the hospital my daughter came to. She was purple and appeared to be in some sort of shock. The ER team met us outside and whisked her away as they began to treat her. They weren’t sure what was wrong, but believe it to be some sort of anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to something. Her face was swollen and redness over her entire body. After stabilizing her, we went to the pediatric floor. The next day, at noon, she was supposed to eat and go home. She took 2 bites and had some pain. Within seconds she went back into anaphylactic shock. Her eyes rolled back into her head and nurses and doctors from all over the hospital rushed to her side and then to ICU. I was again praying for her very life. The fear. The concern. The uncertainty.
The lack of control.
Few things in life are certain. We plan. We invest. We all try to build better lives for ourselves and those closest to us. When the plan is working, we feel happy and content – and rightly so. Smiles are a little wider. Chests puffed out a little farther. There’s swagger in our step. When things are mostly working as planned, we feel alive and in control.
But when the plan falls apart all of that can disappear in seconds.
The frailty of human life is such that no amount of wise planning or investing can compensate for it. Life truly is but a vapor. We are all born. We all live. We will all die. That may seem unfair, but just because a thing doesn’t seem fair, doesn’t mean it is any less true.
My daughter came home from the hospital Monday night. Like my son, she is going to be ok. They are still unsure what happened but think it was an allergic reaction to something.
I feel like I lost three days of my life. The blur of all that happened. The lack of sleep and the fear of the unknown really have a way of getting to a person. I’ve been trying to make ‘sense’ of all that has happened. For whatever reason, this passage from the Bible stuck out to me as I got home from the hospital:
“Those who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. “ James 4:13-14
If you are like me, we spend so much time planning and investing our time in things that will pay us later. Things like advancement in our careers, financial stability, planning the next vacation or shopping for that next big purchase. I get it. In this world those things are necessary to a degree. But for a few days this weekend I felt, in the midst of fear and uncertainty, this earnest desire and passion to redirect my time and efforts in so many ways. If our lives are like the morning fog, then the sun is coming out soon…..and we will all pass.
I don’t know about you, but I want more than just what this world has to offer. This is the short list of what I want to be better at:
- I want to be a better dad.
- A better husband.
- I want to spend even more time with my family.
- I want to help those who are struggling with hope and peace – to find it – maybe for the first time or maybe again.
- I want to love people more and be upset with people less.
- I want my relationship with God to be even less about a formula and more about a great love between Father and son.
While I know we can’t all live our lives in light of the things that ‘could happen’ to us, we can live our lives understanding that our time here is short….and live accordingly. Because when the fog lifts, I want my life to have been one of love and hope for those closest to me and anyone that may need it. If all that is between being born and being dead is living…..I want to live for what matters most. How about you?
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things that don’t really matter. DL Moody